By Gramps for CrossDove Writers
A few weeks ago, myself, my siblings, extended family, and a sizable group of friends joined together in a ‘Celebration of Life’ service for my late father.
I wrote about it as I entered the weekend of the service looking at many possible ‘last time’ moments that would come from the service and visit surrounding it.
Now, after a couple of weeks to devour the events surrounding the service, I choose to amplify my memories by looking at the ‘ripples in the water of life’ that my father left behind.
While I could discuss but choose not to, the many people I saw from my past, many whom I knew would most likely be my last physical visit. At least in this write.
Instead, I want to remember the many memories of the people that came and why they were there.
For instance, entering the sanctuary and as my wife and I walked the path to our pew, the first couple of people that brought a huge smile to my face was the joining of two young men (well, now not so young, but young to my father) who always brought smiles to his face and joy to his conversation when talking about the early years of his ministry in Lincoln, Nebraska.
These two fellows, one was the organist’s son, and the other was the son of the man who headed up the selection committee that called my dad to the church. Two fellows who were early on challenges to my dad in youth programs while also being boys in the neighborhood.
While my father had many young adults that he worked with in those early years at Northeast Church, these two were the ones who always seemed to come up and/or finish conversations about those times.
For years when my father and I would talk about Kent Pavelka and Bill Young, we would always close out the talk hoping to get these two back together in the same room for a long overdue chat.
One of those final ripples in the water of life my father left for us to see was the reunion of these two outstanding men, both of whom I cherish in my own life for even just a few, but very memorable conversations through the years.
When Cousin Paul (Judson), a Lutheran pastor, spoke during the service, he talked about the stories my father always seemed to tell. I could feel the smiles behind me in the sanctuary when he remarked how many times we were told to raise a hand if we had heard the story before, and even when we did, Dad told it again, anyway.
Every one of the people that made the service and the many more who did not represented a story or a ‘ripple in the water of life’ from having spent time with my father. Every one of them most likely could tell their own story or two regarding time with my father as a pastor, as a family member, or just as a good friend.
All those people I talked about in my previous write, ‘Last Time Weekend’, were in my life because of a ripple in the water from a moment with my father.
Beth Franz, a lady who has taken care of the flower gardens at the church for what seems like forever, was there, as was her son Scott. Her bringing Scott opened the door for a reconnecting of many who knew him growing up in the church but maybe had not seen him in many years.
Two of my last remaining ‘church dads’ were there as well. Joe Geist and Marion Packett, two men who served the church well while also becoming very dear friends to my parents and because of the ripple in the water of life from those friendships, became two of my most cherished church dads.
We got a few moments with Bob and Diane Snook. Bob used to play guitar with my dad both during Labor Day Family Church Camps at Camp Kaleo and at the church. The music they played rings in my ears while ‘Kum Ba Yay’ resonates in my mind when Bob, Diane and I reminisced about those times. Ripples in the water of life with music in tow.
Steve Gottsch, a friend I have had for nearly 60 years, is another ‘ripple in the water of life’. Steve knew my father as he and his dad were members of a father/son group we were active in while in Lincoln. Plus, we must remember that Steve’s parents were card playing friends to my parents.
So many people, each with their own stories, their own reflections, their own ripple in their own water of life due to knowing and having time with my father.
Cousin John Judson even made the attempt to drive in from his ranch in the high country around Crested Butte, Colorado, only to have vehicle issues. This forced him to call with the heartbreaking news that he would not make it. John’s ripples went both ways as he played an important part in helping my father get the first couple of years of work done on the property in the Black Hills.
A couple from my father’s time in St. Louis came, representing a whole group of ‘ripples in the water of life’ he left behind in a church where none of us Snesrud kids were ever members.
My good friend Oliver Lawrence and his wife Merlyn, who drove in from Chicago just to be there to celebrate with me, because the ‘ripple in the water of life’ my father gave him was treating him with dignity and respect as our foreign exchange student while we were seniors in high school.
I even had a phone call Saturday morning from Bill White, distressed because he was not going to make the service due to health issues. The ‘ripple in the water of life’ he represented was the realization that despite major conflicts in political opinions, Bill and my father were forever best friends. The mutual respect they had for each other, despite those differences in opinion about various issues, will be something for which I am not sure I will see very often in any relationship of friends anymore.
My father was a pastor for at least 45 years officially and many more to so many after retirement. We knew he left a lot of ‘ripples in the water of life’ in his travels and we know that the people we saw at the ‘Celebration of Life’ were just a puddle in the overall lake of ripples that are out there.
Yes, we all know that our father loved to tell those stories, and yes, so many of them we heard time and time again while knowing in our heart they were all ‘ripples in the water of life’ that he would leave behind when he passed.
We all knew as well that our father also left behind in passing a very large, solid imprint of integrity, faith, hope, love, and grace on the lives of thousands who were fortunate to meet him during his travels of life.
As siblings, as the children of our father, I am pretty sure there have been and still may be times where we are in awe of just how many ‘ripples in the water of life’ that he made.
One thing I am sure of, for myself, I just look at my own two adult children, their companions, and my grandkids, and know just what that ‘ripple in the water of his life’ is all about.
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